Posts Tagged ‘Ken Schwaber’

Scrum And Non-Scrum Interfaces

October 5, 2012 11 comments

According to the short and sweet Schwaber/Sutherland Scrum Guide, a Scrum team is comprised of three, and only three, simple roles: the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Developers. One way of “interfacing” a flat and collaborative Scrum team to the rest of a traditional hierarchical organization is shown below. The fewer and thinner the connections, the less impedance mismatch and the greater the chances of efficient success.

Regarding an ensemble of Scrum Developers, the guide states:

Scrum recognizes no titles for Development Team members other than Developer, regardless of the work being performed by the person; there are no exceptions to this rule.

I think (but am not sure) that the unambiguous “no exceptions” clause is intended to facilitate consensus-based decision-making and preclude traditional “titled” roles from making all of the important decisions.

So, what if your conservative org is willing to give Scrum an honest, spirited, try but it requires the traditional role of “lead(s)” on teams? If so, then from a pedantic point of view, the model below violates the “no exceptions” rule, no? But does it really matter? Should Scrum be rigidly followed to the letter of the law? If so, doesn”t that demand go against the grain of the agile philosophy? When does Scrum become “Scrum-but“, and who decides?

From Complexity To Simplicity

September 9, 2012 3 comments

As the graphic below shows, when a system evolves, it tends to accrue more complexity – especially man-made systems. Thus, I was surprised to discover that the Scrum product development framework seems to have evolved in the opposite direction over time – from complexity toward simplicity.

The 1995 Ken Schwaber Scrum Development Process paper describes Scrum as:

Scrum is a management, enhancement, and maintenance methodology for an existing system or production prototype.

However, The 2011 Scrum Guide introduces Scrum as:

Scrum is a framework for developing and sustaining complex products.

Thus, according to its founding fathers, Scrum has transformed from a “methodology” into a “framework“.

Even though most people would probably agree that the term “framework” connotes more generality than the term “methodology“, it’s arguable whether a framework is simpler than a methodology. Nevertheless, as the figure below shows, I think that this is indeed the case for Scrum.

In 1995,  Scrum was defined as having two bookend, waterfall-like, events: PSA and Closure. As you can see, the 2011 definition does not include these bookends. For good or bad, Scrum has become simpler by shedding its junk in the trunk, no?

The most reliable part in a system is the one that is not there; because it isn’t needed. (Middle management?)

I think, but am not sure, that the PSA event was truncated from the Scrum definition in order to discourage inefficient BDUF (Big Design Up Front) from dominating a project. I also think, but am not sure, that the Closure event was jettisoned from Scrum to dispel the myth that there is a “100% done” time-point for the class of  product developments Scrum targets. What do you think?

Breakfast Interpretation

March 21, 2010 Leave a comment

While e-conversing with a colleague the other day, I used the following quote that encapsulates the chicken and pig story:

In a bacon and eggs breakfast, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed – Ken Schwaber

Surprisingly (it’s surprising because my colleague isn’t a member of the management guild), my infallible and self-righteous peer castigated me with a retort of “that’s inappropriate!”.

Dude, gimme a break. You see, just because the quote was created by a semi-famous software dweeb to belittle BMs, it doesn’t have to be interpreted that way. It can be interpreted as the exact opposite:

managers who decide to provide financial backing for a project have more skin in the game than the engineers who spend the money – because if the project fails, the pecuniary loss is pinned on the manager by his/her manager(s)“.

This interpretation certainly has as much validity as it’s polar opposite, no?

Nevertheless, when I did utter the quote, I was using it to convey Mr. Schwaber’s original intent. Bad dog – as my colleague was quick to point out. He seems to delight himself whenever he clearly points out how stupid I am – which is often. Gotta love pumping yourself up at the expense of others. I should know, cuz I do it all the time. Mooo hah hah hah! Bad dog!

Buy this poster at Post it on your cubie wall – if you dare.

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